Kitchen Remodeling: Where to Splurge

Kitchen Remodeling: Where to SplurgeThe kitchen is typically the most expensive room in the house to remodel, so it’s very easy to go over budget if you’re not careful. While it’s a good idea to be conservative when it comes to purchasing appliances and putting in a backsplash, there are certain times during kitchen remodeling that it’s okay to splurge. Here are our top picks.


As the most noticeable feature of your kitchen, you want your kitchen cabinets to be beautiful and eye-catching, but it’s equally as important that they be functional. Kitchens with inadequate storage space and prep areas are a nightmare to work in, as well as keep clean, so it makes sense to invest in high-quality cabinets that will best help you utilize your space, while also providing unique storage solutions. Kitchen cabinets see a lot of use and abuse over the years, and durable, well-built cabinets will show their worth over time. Ten years down the road, when your neighbors are replacing their less expensive contractor-grade cabinets while yours are still as solid as ever, you’ll be glad you spent the extra money.


There’s a reason that countertops made of stone, like granite and quartz, have reigned supreme in kitchens for years. Discerning homeowners understand that, as another highly visual feature of a kitchen, countertops should stand out – and stone countertops certainly do. These types of materials cost substantially more than laminate or acrylic, but if you want your counters to be the focal point of your kitchen, it’s okay to splurge to get the stunning look you desire. Plus, countertops aren’t easy to switch out, so it’s better spend the money on what you really want now, rather than have to deal with the hassle and added expense of changing them out later.


While pendants and inexpensive ceiling-mounted light fixtures will certainly do the job, if you have the budget and want a more high-end look, consider upgrading your lighting. Instead of the usual pendant lights over the island, install a few small chandeliers. Utilize under-cabinet lighting to highlight glossy countertops and provide additional illumination for food prep. If you have a collection of dishes you’d like to display, consider using lighted display cabinets. And last but not least, throw in a few recessed lights or even a couple walls sconces to ensure you have plenty of lighting for whatever kitchen task you may be doing.

Whether you need help with a kitchen redesign or are in desperate need of help with bathroom remodeling, Callen Construction can help. Give us a call today at 414-765-2585 and get started by setting up your FREE consultation.



Homeowner Mistakes That May Decrease the Value of Your Home

Callen Blog - Mistakes That Can Decrease Your Home¹s Value 101915There are many decisions to make as a homeowner when it comes to remodeling, updating, or selling your home.  Making your home your own can involve adding your own personal touches with colors and designs; however, it is important to be mindful of how these decisions may affect the value of your home when it’s time to sell – even if selling your home is not in the foreseeable future. Avoid making these mistakes, which may decrease the value of your home.

Following Too Many Trends
It can be fun to follow the latest trends in home design and renovation; however, it is important to be mindful of overdoing it. Buyers typically look for kitchens and bathrooms that are classic in design.

Going Overboard with Paint
Choosing a vibrant and bright color for your home’s exterior can diminish its curb appeal. When it’s time for an exterior paint job, stick to a color that fits your home’s design and complements the homes in your neighborhood. For the interior, avoid getting too complicated with paint. You may like sponge painting and bright colors, but when it’s time to sell, stick to neutrals.

Skimping on an AC Unit
When you are looking for a new air conditioning unit, pay for the next system up for your home. But have a qualified contractor size it correctly to keep your home comfortable and control your energy costs.

Holding onto Old Appliances
No buyer wants to inherit dirty, chipped, or stained appliances, and why would you want to live with them either. Replace when necessary, and look for a quality finish and the Energy Star seal.

Neglecting the Small Stuff
Make sure your house is well maintained by cleaning regularly, repairing what’s broken or leaky, maintaining the windows and doors, etc. Pay attention to even the tiniest details when it comes to cleaning, such as the tracks of windows and sliders, and grout around your tile. This will show the buyer that your house was cared for while you lived there.

Choosing Hard-to-Clean Surfaces
If you are looking to replace your countertops, make sure that you purchase and use the correct cleaners and choose easy-to-clean surfaces. Permanent stains on kitchen and bathroom counters are a turn-off and sends a signal to the buyer that costly replacements may be needed.

Expecting to Regain the Value on Big Investments
Putting in a pool is a big investment, and many people expect to recoup the full value of the pool when they sell their home. Unfortunately,  potential buyers will often see the pool as a drawback, not an asset.

If you are looking to update or remodel your home, call Callen at 414-765-2585.  Since 1986, our dedicated design/build team has been instrumental in transforming the lives and homes of thousands of Wisconsin residents.



What’s the Difference: Countertop Options

Callen Blog - What's the Difference-Countertop Options 100515Kitchen countertops play a large role in the appeal of a kitchen. With an array of materials and colors to choose from, countertops can complement the personal style and design of a kitchen. Although granite has been a popular countertop in the past decade, more unique kitchen designs are using quartz, concrete, and stainless steel. At Callen, we know that style and function are unique to each homeowner, so we help homeowners make informed and educated decisions about what will work best for them. Here’s a list of the most common countertop materials, and a list of the pros and cons for each.

Granite is still very popular with our customers. It’s extremely durable and available in many colors. Since it is heat resistant and waterproof, you can set a hot pot on it and it won’t burn. Although you can use a knife on granite without seeing marks, it will dull your knife, and it is not recommended. It is necessary to seal the granite periodically to protect the surface. Many people often see sealing as a hassle; however, it only takes a few minutes to apply the manufacturer-recommend product, wipe it off, and buff it lightly. Lighter granites are more porous, so we recommend sealing those more often. Apart from sealing, maintenance for granite countertops is minimal.

Although it is one of the most durable materials, it can certainly be chipped if you drop a cast iron pan on it, so be mindful. Also, remember that slabs of granite can vary. If your kitchen needs more than one slab of granite, you want to make sure that the numbers are on the slab are in sequence. Since, the veining and color shading can vary, we always have the homeowner approve the slabs before they are installed.

Pros: Natural beauty, multiple colors, resists heat, and durable. Surfaces can be polished or satin.

Cons: Sealing is required, knives dull when cut on it, and limited colors by Mother Nature.

Quartz, also known as engineered stone with trade names like Zodiac® Cambria®, and Silestone®, the product is made by combining quartz with resin and pigments in a process that binds the medium permanently. Like granite, quartz is durable, and resistant to wear and tear, stains, scratches, and high temperatures. One of the major advantages of quartz is the color selection, although it does not have veining. Manufacturers are trying to introduce more patterns to quartz, moving the grains and introducing color to make it resemble natural marble or granite.

Pros: Durable, nonporous, and many color choices.

Cons: Doesn’t duplicate the natural movement of granite. Edges and corners can chip.

Ceramic Tile is a product that’s been around forever. We replace a lot of ceramic tile countertops that have lost color over the years. The tile itself will resist staining, but the grout will not. Even with sealing, grout stains very easily. Ceramic tile is heat resistant and available in a variety of colors and patterns; however, not all tiles have matching edge pieces. A solution is to go with a wood edge, but this can get dog-eared from water and cleaning solutions

Pros: Tiles easily clean, and wide range of price, color, texture, and pattern.

Cons: Grout stains easily, even when sealed. Edging difficult or impossible to match the countertop tiles.

One of the largest categories is high-pressure laminates, which are popular with people who want to update their kitchen with new countertops but want to keep costs in mind. Laminate is made of paper or fabric that is impregnated with resin and put over a composite wood product like particleboard. Laminates have come a long way since the’60s and ’70s. Through digital photography, laminates can be made to look like granite or stone. They are also better at resisting scratches, stains, and heat than they used to be. Laminates are a viable alternative, especially if the kitchen remodel is on a smaller budget.

Pros: Durable, many color choices and patterns, and less costly.

Cons: Scratches and chips difficult or impossible to repair. Visible seams, and difficult to do undermount sinks.

Solid surface materials such as DuPont’s Corian®, are durable, long lasting, and heat and stain resistant. They are also available in many choices and color patterns. Solid surface materials are composed of polyester or acrylic resin plus a mineral filler. Solid surfacing is the same material all the way through, so minor surface blemishes can be sanded out. An advantage is that it is virtually seamless. Integrated sink bowls are available that are made of the same materials, though they are usually a different color than the countertop

Pros: Many color choices and patterns that mimic stone, seamless, and stain resistant. Many edge options and integral sink or undermount sink option.

Cons: Needs protection from high heat and sharp knives.

Marble and limestone are beautiful, but they are not ideal for high-use areas because they will scratch easily and require more maintenance. Marble particularly doesn’t take sealers well—one spilled glass of red wine would stain it. Marble and limestone tend to work better for a desk or buffet area. However, bakers favor marble because it is an excellent surface for rolling dough and its molecular makeup keeps its temperature stable. Limestone can withstand heat, but it stains, and scratches more easily than granite or quartz products.

Pros: Beautiful to look at and heat resistant.

Cons: High maintenance. Needs to be used carefully to avoid scratches and nicks. Not stain resistant.

Soapstone is generally gray, green, or bluish in color and has a very smooth feel. Although it scratches easily, it can be sanded out and wiped with mineral oil to darken the stone and conceal scuffs. Soapstone will not absorb stains, and it will form a patina over time.

Pros: Smooth feel, deep colors, easy to conceal scratches, and stain resistant.

Cons: Requires regular maintenance with applications of mineral oil

Onyx falls into the soft stone category. It’s a translucent stone that is perfect for bar tops or backsplash. It’s not very suitable for a countertop that is used frequently for food preparation. It is typically a more expensive option.

Pros: High-end look, translucent, exotic colors and veining.

Cons: More costly to purchase and install. High maintenance – not suitable for acidic or abrasive cleaners. Stains and scratches easily.

Wood countertops give warmth to the kitchen, but are not as durable and user-friendly as other products. Stains from water or liquid can soak into the grain and may be impossible to get out. Some people prefer a butcher block for chopping, but as marble, soapstone, and limestone – it will develop its own personality with nicks and marks. Wood can be treated with mineral oil or beeswax or varnished for stain resistance; however, water can still damage it. We recommend using wood as a feature in the kitchen, such as in the form of a raised snack bar with the use of placemats.

Pros: Rich, warm look.

Cons: Needs periodic sealing or refinish to remove cuts, dings, and scratches, if you desire to maintain a certain look.

Stainless can give your kitchen a high-tech industrial look, and it is commonly found in warehouse condos or lofts. Although it is durable and nonporous, it does not give your kitchen a warm feel as some other materials do. Spots are common on stainless countertops, but they are removable. Stainless can also dent. Countertops are usually fabricated from templates.

Pros: Nonporous, nonstaining, and resistant to heat.

Cons: Can be more costly than granite or quartz. May scratch or dent. Cannot cut on it directly. Fingerprints and water spots show easily.

Concrete counters are cast upside down in molds or formed in place, and they can be made in virtually any shape and thickness. They are hard, durable, and heat and scratch resistant, but they can stain and chip easily. Concrete can be tinted, textured, and have different edge treatments. For a unique look, stone chips or fiber optic lights can also be embedded in it.

Pros: Heat resistant, can be color tinted and texturized, and configured to unusual shapes.

Cons: Subject to chipping.

Choosing countertops can be a fun process, but with so many patterns, colors, and materials to choose from, it can also be overwhelming. The designers at Callen are more than happy to help you select the countertop that functions best for you and your home. Get a free consultation and award winning expertise on your remodeling project today by calling us at 414-765-2585.



Four Kitchen Looks Trending for 2015

The kitchen is the hub of culinary creativity, and it also offers tremendous design opportunities for homeowners who are ready to remodel. Here are a few looks, finishes, and design elements we believe will be on trend in the year ahead.

  • The kitchen as part of the great room. Experts agree that the kitchen will continue to merge with other rooms as the open space concept surges in popularity. Great rooms – a hybrid of the kitchen, family room, living room, and dining room – are forecast to become the most likely of rooms in 2015, according to “The New Home in 2015,″ a survey of designers, builders and other home experts published by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).
  • Bold color. Not a fan of all-white kitchens? You’re in luck, because interior designers are injecting fun, funky color into kitchens and living areas, using lime greens, turquoises, sunset yellows, and rich clay reds to transform boring rooms into spaces that demand attention.
  • Modern traditional style. The kitchen continues to be a prime location to mix colors, materials, and textures, such as stainless steel and wood, or wood and marble. Designers say homeowners are moving from contemporary features including polished chrome fixtures and glass backsplashes to more traditional elements such as classic door profiles, tile, and pewter or brushed nickel fixtures.
  • Customized countertops. Eco-friendly countertops made from engineered concrete are the latest trend in kitchen interiors. For homeowners who want to participate in the creative process, this material can be totally customized using different ingredients, casting techniques and surface treatments.

If you’re planning to change up your kitchen in 2015, give the Lake Country kitchen remodeling experts at Callen a call at 414-765-2585. With knowledgeable designers, a comprehensive selection of products, full installation services, and creative yet affordable design solutions, we can create the kitchen that’s just right for you.